Many pro-life pregnancy resource centers fight an uphill battle against the misconceptions people have about them; however, their life-affirming work to help both mothers and their babies shouldn’t be written off just because of a certain label.
On May 15, CSU Students for Life hosted a Zoom meeting to start a conversation about the harmful language used to describe pro-life pregnancy resource centers. The meeting was held in response to a CSU student senate resolution passing which asked Colorado State University “to take action in preventing AACC (Anti-Abortion Counseling Centers) from spreading misinformation on reproductive Health Care by ensuring that AACC’s do not have any misleading advertisements on CSU’s grounds.”
Laura Rencher, president of the club, brought together the representatives of four different pregnancy centers in order to talk about the services they provide and the clarity they have with patients about being pro-life clinics. The four clinics that attended were Marisol Health, Birthline of Loveland, Alpha Center, and Life Choices. Rencher wanted to talk about the main misconceptions that people have about pregnancy centers and Christian medical clinics and have the representatives clear up these misunderstandings.
“In my mind, Resolution 5008 didn’t provide a lot of evidence that local Colorado pregnancy help centers or Christian medical clinics provided misleading information aside from word-of-mouth claims and viral YouTube video cited by Vice,” Rencher said.“I wanted to promote civil and mature conversation on several of the claims made during the bill.”
The main misconceptions about pregnancy centers and clinics that exist stem from them being called “fake clinics,” meaning that they do not provide factual and accurate medical diagnoses, and that they are anti-abortion counseling centers and cause “coercive trauma” to students. They are also thought of as non-inclusive spaces that force religious beliefs on patients. These were the main misconceptions Rencher had observed based on conversations she has had with students.
Marisol Health is a medical center that helps women make informed decisions about their health. They provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, comprehensive OB-GYN and prenatal care, fertility/infertility care, and no cost or low-cost options for testing and treatment of STDs among many other services. This clinic is partnered with Bella Health and Wellness, a comprehensive OB-GYN in Englewood. That means that they have qualified nurses and doctors that go into the clinics and treat women offering a full range of medical services.
“We want everyone to know that when they come to us they are greeted right away with just support,” said Michelle Gallegos, community engagement specialist for Marisol Health’s Lafayette clinic.
Birthline of Loveland is actually a pregnancy resource center that is not a clinic but refers their clients to Life Choices for medical services. Gwen Stephenson, the board president explained that they educate and equip people to make the best decision possible in regards to their health and pregnancy. They provide maternity clothing, layettes and diapers for new moms, infant and baby clothing, free pregnancy tests, free STI testing as well as adoption information. They also support families after their babies are born and provide services for two years.
The Alpha Center, which is close to the CSU campus, is another Christian medical clinic that provides education and services related to sexual health under the supervision of Dr. Kauffman and Dr. Hayes, an OB-GYN. This clinic provides pregnancy and STD testing, limited ultrasound, miscarriage, and early infant loss support, and pre-abortion screening with other services.
They are clear that this clinic does not refer to or do abortions; however, Rebecca Jones, the staff nurse of the center, says that pre-abortion screening is provided for women to know how far along they are in their pregnancy. This helps the patients to know they whether or not they have a viable pregnancy and in turn allows them to make an informed decision about whether or not they should seek an abortion.
“We want them to know if it’s a viable pregnancy so they don’t have to make a decision and pay for something that is not medically necessary,” Jones said.
Life Choices is also a pregnancy center that provides similar services to the other clinics as well as abortion pill reversal, post-abortion support, and healing as well as parenting classes. In response to the video about pregnancy centers in Texas that was attached to the bill, executive director Kathy Roberts said, “I winced when I watched this, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for coming against a center based on that video. No one deserves to be tricked or feel unsafe or not heard.”
The video mentioned was about a pregnancy center in Texas that was misleading women into thinking that they do abortions but when they arrived they were being persuaded to not have the abortion and were not told that they do not do those procedures. This caused an uproar since many felt that this was misleading and it was and insensitive to the women that were not looking to be coerced into not having an abortion.
Angela Davis, volunteer coordinator of the Alpha Center says that she does know of clinics that operate in that manner and that it’s unfortunate because that makes a blanket statement for all Christian-based pregnancy clinics.
Regarding the enforcement of religious beliefs, Jennifer Green, community engagement specialist of Marisol Health in East Denver said, “We serve because we are Christian, but you don’t have to be Christian for us to serve you. We just want to serve because we want everyone to get the care they deserve.”
Marisol Health is an entity of Catholic Charities, which recently implemented an agency-wide trauma and care training to better serve and care for clients.
At the student government hearing which passed Resolution 5008, one senator commented that “people who are pro-life are not pro-life, they are anti-choice.” This comment was another motivating factor for Rencher to hold this conversation.
“As someone who is pro-life, that was extremely hurtful to me because the resolution was saying we are against non-inclusive and misleading language,” Rencher said. “Yet they use non-inclusive and misleading language towards someone who is pro-life as someone who is anti-choice and that’s it… And so that’s another reason why I wanted to start this conversation.”
Featured photo from CSU Students for Life Facebook page